Day 35: Novo Mesto, Slovenia to Donja Stubica, Croatia

Hill Churches on a road I shouldn't have taken

Another short day, but one that I enjoyed despite getting lost and getting rained on. I didn't end up where I expected to be, but I enjoyed getting here, and, if supper is good, I'll be satisfied with my fancy resort hotel. It was fun checking in here because the clerk couldn't believe I got to the hotel on a bicycle! On the other hand, she charged me about 5 E to park my bike in the garage!

I stopped here because it was raining, I was lost, and hotels are a rarity in Croatia, I was lost, for the second time today, because my mapping software is lousy for Croatia and because the signage for roads is quite poor. On the other hand, the best riding of the day was when I was lost, and my new route will be hillier and lots prettier than my original route. This hotel is a resort in a very pretty part of Croatia that I would never have seen if I had followed my routing plans. So it goes.

Slovenian landscape not far from Novo Mesto

I had a good night sleep last night, but attempting to stay awake after too little sleep the night before, I drank too much Coke yesterday. My stomach hurt for most of the day today. That wasn't a big deal while riding, but it did influence my choice of lunch and supper places. I needed to be nice to my tummy today.

When I left Novo Mesto about 9:30, I immediately ran into a construction delay on the road out of town. These seem to be pretty common in this part of the world. I waited about ten minutes to get through an intersection, and then had to deal with all the traffic that had built up behind me in that time in an area where trucks couldn't easily pass me because they could not pull into the other lane. A pain, but it was over fairly quickly and the riding was nice most of the way to the Croatian border.

A neat bridge - one way with a two way bike lane

A valley I rode into, hoping I wouldn't have to ride out over the ridge

A wooden bridge leading to a church whose bells were ringing as I rode towards it

It was about 30 miles to the border, and it was a bit hilly, so I arrived in Dobova, the last town before the border, around lunch time. I stopped at a likely looking gostilna - restaurant - and had a good, but slowly served, lunch. I spent about an hour at that place, half of it waiting for the first of my lunch to be served.

I took a back road route to the border - this road leads to Dobova

The Slovenian side of the border crossing

The Croatian side

After lunch I rode to the border where both the Slovenian and the Croatian border folks took a few minutes to check my passport. Then I was free to ride into Croatia and a narrow, bumpy, road. My first impression of Croatia was that it felt like a poorer Slovenia. The per capita Slovenian income is about half of the per capita US income. The per capita Croatian income is less than a third of that in Slovenia. It shows in the houses, and, even more so, in the cars. Later, when I was lost, I kept hoping to find a service station. I haven't seen any except in the city. There are lots of bars and restaurants, but few hotels - a small sign on the expressway advertised rooms only 29 km away.

I rode on into town, Zapresic, and found a ATM machine to get some money, then I headed north on a likely looking road. It was a good choice, but, a mile or so later it forked and I chose the wrong fork. I should have gone east on the road to Pojatno, but, since Pojatno was the only thing marked for that road, I chose the other fork and ended up, a few miles later, almost in Dubravica, a town near the Slovenian border.

When I realized I was lost, I stopped to check my computer by the side of the road. An older - roughly my age - woman came walking down the other side of road, said hello (dobry den) and when she saw my problem did a good job of telling me where we were, in Croatian but I could see what she meant. I've never had a older woman in a European village greet me spontaneously or be so helpful. Later, when I asked a young woman for help, she too was friendly and helpful. Even though we didn't have a common language, she manage to tell me how to get back to the main roads in the valley.

Heading north on Highway 11

One of the problems of riding in a country where you don't know the language!
I have no idea what this warning is for

A Croatian landscape near the border

When I got back into the valley, I found Highway 11, an expressway, and the autoroute. I headed north on 11 which was OK riding. Heavy traffic in bursts, but there was a small shoulder and I never felt endangered by the traffic. What I did feel was bored by the road which does not go through villages, etc. It just gets on down the road with little change.

When it started to rain, I decided to get off the expressway. This wasn't because of danger, but rather because it looked like the expressway was running right into the rain. There hadn't been any exit except towns in the valley, but now there was one to a bunch of towns to the east. I took it and discovered that, although it looked, from the expressway, like I had gotten north of the big ridge north of Zagreb, it was a road into the hills. The rain increased and put on my rain cape. That made riding up the steep hills a bit hotter, but I was still enjoying myself. I stopped at the first town to ask about rooms and was told - no common language - that the rooms were in towns somewhere farther down the road. I couldn't get an answer on how far, so I kept riding. About ten km later, I came into a resort area and, soon thereafter stopped at the first hotel I'd seen in Croatia.

I am staying at a fancy and relatively expensive resort. It is in a beautiful place and has a huge physical plant with both a large indoor swimming pool and a sauna. The room is OK, I'd give it two stars, with a few three star features. Diner was not bad - but was essential the same kind of food - maybe a little better - and service - maybe not as good as - as I would expect in a US truckstop. The dinner setting was fancy, with linen napkins, nice china, and all the appropriate forks, but the meal was production line, the food was good, but unexciting, and the service was curt. It was not remotely like eating in France < grin > at the simplest restaurant and least expensive menu. On the other hand, it was quick! I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.

This fancy hotel has an internet cafe, so I bought 15 minutes of time - the price was as high as the high priced internet cafes in France or Germany - to try it. It didn't work to access my email because the IP address was blocked. It (or a similar address) had been used in a hacking attempt on our computers. I bet I'm the first faculty member from my university who has tried to get in from one of those blocked addresses. The system itself was as crippled as the bad systems in France, but it did have, interestingly, a US keyboard setup. It didn't have a US keyboard, so they had remarked some of the keys to the US pattern. At least I could blind type my login and password, even if I couldn't actually get in!

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